Forty-five minutes from our house is the west entrance to Glacier National Park. We have lived here for a year and a half now and I had only been to Glacier twice. Of course, I lived in New York for most of 60 years and never made it to the Empire State building so I guess I was still ahead of the game.
This morning Kat and I decided to rectify our lax sightseeing and go for a hike in the Park. Almost everything man made, except the outhouses, is closed for the winter. In the winter, the Going To The Sun Road, a 50-mile breath-taking drive, is only plowed for the first 10 miles to McDonald Lodge. The rest of the highway opens “sometime in June” after they finish clearing all the snow.
We took the ‘moderate’ Fish Lake trail. Every trail in this part of the park starts with the first mile being all up-hill. You begin by entering what looks like the Enchanted Forest. I couldn’t help thinking of the Ewoks in Star Wars. That is not an Ewok in the picture. That is my wife happy to be away from her real estate computer.
We started with just a little snow under the towering cedars. (Very cool) But as we hiked higher the snow got considerably deeper. I wasn’t going to bring them, because only whimps and arctic explorers wear spikes on their shoes, but I’m glad I did. It seems in Montana people get out of the house and hike tall mountains in the winter. The trail was packed down and very icy. I also figured if any Grizzlies woke up from their naps and wandered my way I’d be able to protect myself with Bruce Lee like kicks!
Although the trail was obviously well used, we didn’t meet anyone until well on our way back to the truck. It was cold, but not terribly so. The temperature was mid-teens and it didn’t take long to work up a sweat as we climbed higher.
It can be rare in the life of many to be in a place almost absent of sound but as we climbed higher and the snow became deeper the sounds of anything man-made disappeared. Growing up on East 15th street in Brooklyn we were one street away from the above ground portion of the subway. Every ten or fifteen minutes a train would rumble noisily down the track in one direction or the other. Living there you grew to tune it and the other city noises out. Even so, there was always noise. Noise from neighbors, planes, buses, etc. On this winter trail, two miles from the trail head, there was no man-made sound. But, if you stopped and really listened, you could hear the whisper of a breeze in tree tops over a hundred feet above you. You could hear the babble of a brook way down in the valley. No radio. No internet. No news guy telling us we’re all going to die…..aaahh.
This spring I would like to hike, and maybe spend the night, at the Sperry Chalet. The only way to get there is a seven mile hike up and over a mountain and into the valley on the other side. For now, we’ll just enjoy the winter.
Boy, retirement really sucks.